Recently retired, undefeated (29-0) UFC Lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov has spoken out on rumours of a return to the Octagon to face Georges St-Pierre.
St-Pierre is considered one of the greatest UFC fighters ever and a bout with Khabib would certainly be a blockbuster event.
In what has to be considered quite a shift in sentiment from ‘The Eagle,’ who has long championed a bout with his Canadian contemporary, Khabib had this to say in a recent interview:
“When you say Georges St-Pierre, that name really motivates me, GSP really makes me excited and so on, but it’s all over, brother.
“He’s 40 years old. Let’s just leave it. For sure we like him as a human being. He is the legend. He is the decent representation of mixed martial arts. Let it be like this, there’s GSP and Khabib.”
The news will likely come as a blow to St-Pierre who retired for the second time in 2018.
Like Nurmagomedov, GSP has also been campaigning for the fight to take place in the Octagon.
The Canadian recently made an appearance on former-British light-heavyweight champion Michael Bisping’s ‘Believe You Me’ podcast and had this to say regarding a possible fight with the undefeated Dagestani, Nurmagomedov.
“But contemplating the idea of fighting against who’s the greatest right now, it’s Khabib, things would need to be lined up right in order for me to consider it.
“I could think about it seriously if the conditions are right in terms of the weight class and all that, but there’s no way I’m gonna go down to 155 now.”
It’s hard to blame GSP for holding out for more money, or for his outright rejection of dropping down in weight to fight ‘The Eagle.’
Unfortunately, in his reluctance to force the fight, GSP may have missed the boat on this one; may being the operative word here since there are still two things in fans’ favour regarding the open possibility of this long-awaited fight.
Firstly, Nurmagomedov’s father Abdulmanan, who sadly passed away last year due to complications brought on by the Covid-19 virus, had wanted to see his son reach the 30-0 mark by besting St-Pierre.
Khabib is nothing if not sentimental, and this wish of his father’s could see him make a return to the Octagon.
Then there is Dana White’s stance on Khabib’s retirement: the UFC president doesn’t seem to buy it one bit and has met with the Dagestani in recent weeks in efforts to convince him to return to the Octagon.
If Dana White is to be believed, it would seem Khabib is merely waiting for the perfect opportunity to return to MMA.
Whether or not it will be against St-Pierre is open to debate, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Khabib return to action if someone in the lightweight division – be it McGregor, Poirier or perhaps even new arrival Michael Chandler – goes on a serious run and calls the Dagestani’s legacy into question.
This is the fight game after all, and much stranger things have happened than a champion returning for another bout.